gelato blouse + dress sew-along

Hello and welcome! We hope you’re ready to start making your Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse or Gelato Dress. We’re glad you’re joining us for the sew-along. If you aren’t ready to get started yet, rest assured the sew-along will still be here for you when you’re ready to get going!

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse + Dress

 

Gelato Blouse + Dress Pattern Details

Description: Relaxed pull-on peplum blouse and A-line dress feature a scooped neck and bust darts. The blouse, View A, includes ruffled peplum and sleeve as well as a button-placket back detail. The A-line dress, View B, includes short sleeves, double-welt angled front pockets and a center-back seam. You’ll find so many ways to sew this versatile pattern, which also includes detailed instructions for doing a full bust adjustment.

Sewing Level: Advanced beginner: this pattern is suitable for someone who has sewn from a pattern before or has taken a few classes and completed several projects.

Suggested Fabrics: Suitable for a wide range of light- to medium-weight woven fabrics with medium drape like quilting cotton, chambray, voile, lawn, shirting, poplin, broadcloth, linen, rayon, silk shantung or dupioni, wool suiting, and lightweight jacquard.

Notions: Coordinating thread, lightweight fusible interfacing. View A: seven 1/2″ buttons.

Get the Pattern: It’s available in both paper and digital formats. (Digital only for sizes 16-30.)

 

Sew-Along Schedule

We’ve broken down the planning and sewing process into a few easy steps. Here’s how we’ll be working through the process of creating your new blouse or dress together.

Preparation Steps Sewing Steps
Gather Your Materials 1. Gather Your Materials
Choosing fabric, gathering notions, deciding on customizations, and purchasing your pattern.
Sew-along day 1 1. Prepare the Back Placket (view A), Assemble the Back (view B), Close the Darts, and Sew the Pockets (view B).
We begin by assembling the back of the garment, closing the darts, and sewing the welt pockets for the dress version.
Select Your Size 2. Select Your Size
Deciding on the size you will sew.
Sew along day 2 2. Finish the Shoulders, the Neckline, and the Side Seams
We work on completing the top portion and the side seams of the garment.
Adjust the pattern 3. Pattern Adjustments
Deciding if there are any adjustments you need to make to the pattern.
3. Stitch the Ruffle (view A), Attach the Sleeves, and Finish the Garment.
Just one day’s sewing is left to finish off the blouse or dress.

 

Gather Your Materials

Are you excited to get started? I am! After all, this is such a classic silhouette, and there are a million things you can do with it–so many ways to customize it, alter it, make it your own. I showed a few ideas in this post, and there are lots more ideas in the Liesl + Co Gelato Blouse + Dress Pinterest board if you need some inspiration.

Choosing Your Fabric

Let’s talk about fabric. You have lots of options for this style. As you can see, I used a lot of double gauze for the samples we showed, mostly because it’s summer and double gauze comes in such pretty colors and prints.

But don’t limit yourself! I also used wool suiting for this blouse and a linen/rayon for the dress.

Linen, double gauze, rayon, silk, lawn, voile, or anything else that is drapey works well for this pattern. If you prefer something more crisp like quilting cotton or poplin, that’s fine too. Just know that a stiffer/crisper fabric will stand away from the body more, which I think would be fine for a summery dress. Stiffer fabrics would be great if you want to do something like pleats or tucks or add some structure to the pattern, especially.

I’ll show you my plan: I found this soft peach (or millenium pink, if you prefer) Essex linen/cotton in my stash, which I plan to use, along with a little bit of this unbleached metallic linen from Gray Line in New York for an accent fabric I’m planning a few customizations along the lines of this photo. I may lengthen the dress by a couple of inches in case the drawstring shortens it when it’s cinched. I’ll use the metallic linen as trim along the short sleeves and for the drawstring itself, like the photo. Not sure about the pockets yet. I may just skip them and leave it simple. Or move them down a bit so they don’t interfere with the drawstring.

What about you? What fabric is grabbing you these days? Which style are you planning? Are you planning the dress, the blouse, or a customization?

Choose Your Notions

Regarding notions, you don’t need much for this pattern. If you’re sewing the button back, you’ll need buttons, of course, and you’ll need a little bit of fusible interfacing for either view.

Here’s what else you’ll need to assemble:

  • Thread. All-purpose thread works great for most fabrics, but choose your thread according to your fabric.
  • Any special sewing needle, depending on your fabric choices.

Other tools you’ll need:

  • Sewing sheers or a rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat.
  • Thread snips or a small scissors, which are nice to keep by your sewing machine so you can keep your sewing cleaned up while you’re progressing.
  • I like to have a good straight-edge handy. My preference is a 6″ x 24″ quilting straight edge, which is also really convenient when cutting out.
  • A small ruler. I like the 1″ x 6″ rulers we carry in our shop and keep at least half a dozen around at all times since I’m forever misplacing them under a pattern piece or something.
  • Tailor’s chalk or a water-soluble fabric marking pen.
  • A seam ripper (always important to have on hand).
  • A measuring tape to determine your size and to help if you want to make any alterations.
  • Pins (or pattern weights and fabric clips if you prefer).

Obviously you’ll want access to a good iron (your second-most important tool after your sewing machine) and an ironing board. I make use of my sleeve board a lot, too.

ironing tools

Deciding on Customizations

As I mentioned above, I’ve already decided how I want to customize the pattern this time. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to sew it as written, but if you want to make any modifications now is the time to decide.

Need a little inspiration? We’ve already written quite a few blog posts and tutorials for this style. You can see them all on this page. And here’s the original blog post where I introduced the pattern and offered some sewing and styling inspiration. You might find some ideas there as well.

Purchasing Your Pattern

And of course you’ll need a copy of the pattern, which you can purchase in paper format in sizes 0-20 or as a digital PDF in either sizes 0-20 or 16-30.

 

Select Your Size

Next let’s talk about selecting your size. For this style (and most styles, for that matter) focus on fitting your shoulders. You can use the measurement chart as a guideline, but obviously everyone is different and you’ll need to find the size that works best for you. Here’s a good place to star.

First take your full bust measurement. This measurement will be taken across the fullest part of your bust. Then take your upper bust measurement. This measurement is taken just under your arms, across the upper part of your chest, like in this photo.

OK, now some quick and easy math:

full bust measurement – upper bust measurement = x

If x is more than 2 1/2″, use your upper bust measurement instead of your full bust measurement when looking at the measurement chart. If x is less than or equal to 2 1/2″, use your full bust measurement. I’ll tell you why in a minute. Now, choose your size by looking at the bust measurements on the size chart and using either your upper bust measurement or your full bust measurement, depending on your results from the math problem above. (You will also use the results of this exercise to determine whether to do a fully bust adjustment for this pattern.)

Sizes 0-20
Pattern
Size
Bust
(in.)
Waist
(in.)
Hips
(in.)
0 32 1/2″ 25″ 35″
2 33 1/2″ 26″ 36″
4 34 1/2″ 27″ 37″
6 35 1/2″ 28″ 38″
8 36 1/2″ 29″ 39″
10 37 1/2″ 30″ 40″
12 39″ 31 1/2″ 41 1/2″
14 40 1/2″ 33″ 43″
16 42″ 34 1/2″ 44 1/2″
18 44″ 36 1/2″ 46 1/2″
20 46″ 38 1/2″ 48 1/2″

 

Sizes 16-30
Pattern
Size
Bust
(in.)
Waist
(in.)
Hips
(in.)
16 42″ 37″ 45 1/2″
18 44″ 39″ 47 1/2″
20 46″ 41″ 49 1/2″
22 48″ 43″ 51 1/2″
24 50″ 45″ 53 1/2″
26 52″ 47″ 55 1/2″
28 54″ 49″ 57 1/2″
30 56″ 51″ 59 1/2″

I wrote a lengthy blog post about finding your correct pattern size a few years ago. You might also want to refer to that.

To summarize, basically we want to get a good fit through the upper chest and shoulders, so if your bust differential is more than 2 1/2″ you’ll probably get a better fit through the shoulders by using your upper bust measurement instead of your full bust measurement when you look at the measurement chart. If you chose your size based on your full bust measurement, you would end up with a fit that’s very oversized and too big through the neck and shoulders, which generally looks sloppy and not nice at all. (And when you shop in stores you often have to purchase this way because you can’t do a full bust adjustment, so there’s of of the many advantages of sewing for yourself!)

And keep in mind that this math is only intended to give you a size approximation. Your shoulders might be broader or narrower than average, in which case you may find that you need a larger or smaller size. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make a muslin first. Also, under the arm you’ll want several inches of ease through the bust, so keep that in mind as you evaluate your muslin.

OK? Next we’ll be talking about any adjustments you might want to make to your pattern.

 

Pattern Adjustments

The pattern includes instructions for a full bust adjustment, and don’t be scared if you haven’t done this yourself yet. It’s not that difficult. And once you’ve done it the first time it just gets easier in the future. If you want me to do it with you, I have a class for that! My Creativebug Bust Adjustment Class will walk you through the whys and hows of dart manipulation.

Once you’ve done the full bust adjustment, the rest of the pattern is relatively loose fitting, so you probably won’t need to make a lot of changes aside from possibly lengthening or shortening, which can be done just as well from the hem of the dress as anywhere else on this pattern. From there it’s pretty easy. Raise or lower the dart as needed, blend to a larger size if you want extra room through the hips or more volume in the dress itself, and decide on any other customizations you may prefer.

And with that I think we’re ready! Go ahead and start cutting your fabric, or make a muslin if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you back here when you’re ready to begin sewing.

 

Day 1

From Liesl: OK friends, here we go! Let’s get to the sewing! Liesl here, and I’ll be chiming in occasionally with little tips and tricks not included in the sewing instructions themselves to help you along. (My tips will be indented in italics like this.)

Prepare the back placket (view A)

1) To form the back button place for View A sew a row of basting stitches 1/2” from the center-back edge of each blouse-back and ruffle-back piece. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse a 1 1/4”-wide strip of interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric piece, aligning the edge of the interfacing with the basting stitches and trimming any extra interfacing that extends beyond the edges.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse/Dress

2) Fold and press the center-back seam allowances of the blouse-back and the ruffle-back pieces to the wrong side of the fabric using the basting stitches as a folding guide. Fold and press a second time, using the opposite edge of the interfacing as a folding guide to form the 1 1/4” button placket on the wrong side of the fabric. Don’t stitch the placket yet.

Liesl + Co. Blouse/Dress

Assemble the back (view B)

1) For View B, align and pin the dress back pieces along the center-back edge with right sides together and matching the edges and notches. Stitch the center back with a 1/2” seam, backstitching or lockstitching at both ends. Finish the seam allowances together and press them to one side or finish them separately and press them open. If you’re sewing with linen or a fabric that’s somewhat loosely woven you might want to topstitch or edgestitch the seam allowances to prevent seam slippage. (Seam slippage happens when the threads in a fabric spread and distort near a seam.)

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Close the darts

1) To close the darts on the blouse/dress-front piece, fold one dart along the dart’s center, with the fabric’s right sides together and the marked dart legs aligned. Pin and stitch along the aligned dart markings, backstitching at the widest part of the dart but not at its tip. Instead, at the dart’s point leave thread tails several inches long and knot the thread tails together a couple of times to secure the thread. This will reduce bulk at the tip of the dart and prevent the dart from puckering.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse/Dress

From Liesl: I like to knot the threads at the end of the dart and then thread a needle with them so I can hide the ends of the thread inside the dart.

Liesl + Co. Blouse + Dress

Liesl + Co. Blouse/Dress

2) Press the dart flat to set the stitches, then press the excess fabric from the dart (the dart “take-up”) toward the blouse/dress hem. Repeat with the second dart on the blouse/dress-front piece. Baste each dart take-up to the blouse/dress at the side seam with a 3/8” seam.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse/Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse/Dress

Sew the double welt pockets (view B)

From Liesl: Don’t be scared! I designed these welts to be incorporated with the pocket itself to keep things simple. Take it one step at a time and you’ll be surprised and how nicely they turn out.

1) Fuse a 1” by 6 1/2” strip of interfacing to the wrong side of the dress front so it covers the welt pocket placement markings you transferred from the pattern piece. Using tailor’s chalk, a water-soluble fabric-marking pen, or a light pencil line, redraw the dots onto the interfacing, making a rectangle precisely 3/8” wide and 5 1/2” long. These lines will help you stitch the welt pocket, so make the rectangle as even and squared as possible. If you haven’t done so already, transfer the rectangle markings on the pocket-facing pattern piece to the wrong side of the pocket-facing piece as well.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Blouse/Dress

2) With right sides together and matching the placement dots, pin the pocket facing to the dress from at the pocket marking. (HINT: To align each dot precisely, gently separate the layers of fabric and push a pin through a dot on the top layer of fabric and then guide it through the matching dot on the bottom layer of fabric before bringing the pin up through the top layer of fabric again.) Stitch only the long sides of the rectangle, stopping and backstitching or lockstitching precisely at the corners of the rectangle (that is, the dots) and backstitching or lockstitching at both ends.

From Liesl: Remember, you’re only stitching the long straight sides of the welts, not the ends. Be sure you backstitch or lockstitch precisely at the corners so your welts will be even at the ends.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

3) Cut a slit through both layers of fabric between the two stitching lines, cutting as precisely through the center as possible and stopping about 1/2” from the rectangle’s short ends. At the ends of the cut slit, clip through both layers to make a Y shape ending the clips as close as possible to the ends of the stitching lines without actually cutting into or beyond the stitching.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

4) Reach in through the back of the opening you just cut and pull the pocket-facing piece to the wrong side of the dress. Once the pocket-facing piece is pulled to the wrong side you’ll have a rectangular-shaped opening in the dress front. Lift one side of the pocket-facing piece and press the stitched and cut seam allowances open, repeating with the other side in the same manner. As you press the seam allowances, press a crease into the rest of the pocket above and below the pocket opening as well.

From Liesl: There isn’t really much to see here, but the idea is that the pressed-open seam allowances will give a crisp edge to your welts. You’ll see in the next steps.

5) To create the pocket welts, fold each side of the pocket-facing back on itself to form a fold down the center of the opening you’ve made, making a crease at the center of the cut-out rectangle. The lines you transferred from the pattern piece can act as folding aids, but adjust the creases as needed. Take your time with this step, making sure that both folds meet in the center as precisely as you can. From the right side it will look rather impressive already at this point. Once you’re happy with your welts, pin or baste them in place temporarily. (I like to zigzag-baste them.) You’ll notice that a pleat has formed in your pocket fabric above and below the pocket openings, more or less along the lines you transferred. Press these folds an edgestitch or zigzag stitch them if you like, keeping them free from the dress fabric itself. (This stitching will keep the pleats flat and stitch folds won’t be noticeable in the finished pockets.)

From Liesl: Take your time here. It can be a bit fiddly, but the seam allowances you pressed open after you cut the opening can help you to get your welts just the right width since now you’re pressing the pocket fabric around them.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

6) From the right side of the dress, fold the dress fabric away from one end of the welt as far as possible, exposing the little cut triangle at one end of the welt. Stitch the triangle to the pleated pocket facing piece as close to the welt opening as you can, backstitching or lockstitching at both ends. (You can even sew the triangle to the pocket facing with a little bit of a curve. The curve will help to give a perfect finish to the welt pocket edges.) Check the welt from the right side of the dress and stitch the triangle a little closer to the dress front if necessary. Repeat this step on the other end of the welt pocket to finish both ends. The more precise you can be, the better your finished pocket will look.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

From Liesl: Here is another example of the corner stitching. This sample is from when I was developing the pattern, and the stitching is in contrast so you can see it better.

7) To finish the welt, edgestitch or stitch in the ditch (meaning stitch in the seamlines) along all four sides of the rectangular pocket opening to secure the welts and to stabilize the pocket.

From Liesl: In order for you to see what I mean, here’s a stitched sample with the stitching in contrast color so you can see it better. (And if you stitch more slowly that I did your stitching will be much neater!)

8) Turn the dress to the wrong side and pin the pocket bag to the pocket facing, with right sides of the pocket pieces together. (Remember that the pocket bag will show through the welt pocket opening, which is why the right sides of the two pockets need to be together here.) Stitch the pocket bag to the pocket facing with a 1/2” seam. If the edges of the two pockets pieces don’t match exactly here or if the pocket extends beyond the side edge a bit, don’t worry. Just trim them to be even.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

9) Finish the curved seam allowances of the pocket using your preferred method. Baste the unstitched outer edge of the finished pocket to the side edge of the dress with a 3/8” seam.

Liesl + Co. Gelato Dress

10) Repeat steps 1-9 to stitch the second pocket on the other side of the dress front.

And that’s it! A day full of stitching adventure, especially if you’ve never sewn a double-welt pocket. And it’s not so difficult, is it? Come back on Wednesday for our next set of steps.



 

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2 Comments

  1. Debbie McDonald

    I couldn’t wait for the sew along, so I’ve already made a wearable muslin of the blouse — I love it. I used cotton lawn for the blouse, and now I plan to make the dress for my granddaughter. I know I’ll have to make some pattern adjustments, so the sew along will be helpful. What do you think about a jersey knit for the dress?

    1. Jersey would probably work although you might want to size down a bit. I haven’t tried it so can’t say for sure, but let us know if you do!

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